If you want create a powerful amplified blues harmonica tone, there are many ways to accomplish this goal. If I had to name the three components that are most important to me, here is what they would be:

  1. A harmonica mic
  2. An amplifier with a thin speaker
  3. Delay or reverb

1. A Mic With Volume Control

Why do I prefer a mic with volume control? So I can walk to the amp with volume off and thus create no feedback. Once I walk away from the amp I position my body between the mic and the amp to cut feedback. Then, I slowly turn up the volume, so I can play at the MAX with no feedback! When I’m done with my solo, I can lower the volume so I don’t irritate anyone with feedback. Here are the microphones I like:

Many harp players love the classic Sure Green Bullet Microphone (I generally prefer the Astatic JT 30 with the crystal element)

2. A Small Harmonica Amp

I like a small amp with a thin speaker that I can crank up to the max so I can get that Chicago Blues distortion without overpowering my band members –- or thrashing my ears! If I need more juice/volume, like if I’m playing in a loud band with a drummer, I place the Sure 57 mic in front of my amp and amplify it through the PA. I particularly like the old Fender Champs. The pre-1958 tweed Fender Champ is my quintessential harmonica amp but I also love the “silver-faced” post-CBS Fender Champ amps and they are much easier to come by. As a harmonica player it may be important to find a silver faced champ with the original speaker because they tend have a thinner speaker.  The Hohner Hoodoo-Box Harmonica Tube Amp may be easier to find. I’ve never tried this but it gets great reviews. See: Hohner Hoodoo Box 5W Harmonica Tube Amp

3. A Digital Delay Pedal for “Slapback Reverb”

To create slap back reverb you’ll want quick decay, so you only hear a couple of repeats before the fade-out. In some instances, I try to match the tempo of the delay with the tempo of the song –- and it should be pretty fast. There are many great option for achieving slap back reverb. One fairly solid and easy to acquire solution is Boss DD-3 digital delay pedal: Boss DD-3 Digital Delay Effects PEDAL, Mono


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